Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The opening paragraphs of my newly begun novel

Pretty Poli;


Monsieur Perroquet's Ascent to a 

High Perch

A Novel

By Richard Craven
Unheeding the Yellowhammers.

A most bleary dawn for May, the filthy welkin lowering ominously over the city’s roofscape. Had they been more than minimally alert, the flâneurs at that ungodly hour straggling homewards up the Gloucester Road would have had their vigilance rewarded by a very peculiar manifestation. Not to put too fine a point on things, there was to be seen, fastidiously keeping within the margins of the cycle lane there depeynted, a large grey parrot astride a tiny scooter. Perched behind this creature was a most comely yellow budgerigar. And what might you expect to see, following in the wake of this slightly ill-assorted couple, being towed on a two-wheeled and comparably diminutive trailer, and lying in state upon a bed of cotton wool and what must I think have been pencil shavings, but a mignon little egg?

To our notional observer the progress of this bizarre congeries would have appeared agonisingly slow. In his defence, the navigating bird must need negotiate the multitude of bumps and and holes and grates and turds and banana skins, figurative and eke literal, which bestrewed the portion of thoroughfare sequestered for his use. His companion saluted each of these impediments by flapping her wings, such efforts to maintain her own stability evidently coming at the expense of that of the contraption on which she perched. At the risk of unduly anthropomorphising the psittaciform, I venture to suggest that her behaviour vexed her conductor, for whenever thus disturbed he bestowed upon that dilapidated corner of creation the coarsest and most vulgar epithets. For her part, the budgerigar at intervals favoured us with, besides a medley of random and inchoate squarks, precisely two intelligible imprecations of her own - “shut up!” and “knickers!” - the incessant repetitions of which betrayed a poverty of vocabulary, and indeed a mindlessness, which can have done very little to leaven the biliousness of her consort.

With the passing of the hours, there commenced, hesitant and desultory at first then by degrees intensifying, an oily rain. A hyperborean gale intermittently whipped up the cardboard and polystyrene fragments maculating in the gutters, and buffeted the plumed personages in their hindquarters. It was a harsh affair, that wind, which did not fill their sails, withal it ruffled their feathers, inasmuch as their progress continued as jarring and as vexed as ever - indeed, it seemed to the universal speculum much as if those gaudy apparitions congealed against that dun occluded landscape of tarmac and commercial premises and discarded stuffs.

Eventually, for all that things had seemed rutted in the traces of a kind of eternal monoevent, that state of being in which they appeared enmired became a becoming. One or two and then several more lorries ground along the avenue, the harbingers of the morning’s metal tide. The people borne upon this tsunami, drivers of lorries, bus-borne somnambulists, solitary motorists, Pakistanis driving cabs, gimperous cyclists, all seemed bent on their several occupations, oblivious of the feathered emissaries of paradise. These latter followed the piste, thereby trundled haltingly down a shallow decline, at the bottom of which they were found to be passing through a leafier and  more forgiving purlieu, a place where cafes extended onto veritable prairies of pavement, and shops sold to hipsters the organic sundries and artisanal fripperies which they professed to find indispensable. Then there was a twist in the road, and overhead a railway arch, under which the avian menagerie passed, as though to signify the sneering triumph over them of some unseen but no doubt sneering miles gloriosus. Beyond this lay a vista of some two hundred yards of non-description, ceding at the traffic lights to the desolations of Stokes Croft.

Friday, 16 May 2014

The beginning of The Montpeliad, an Augustan-style satire modelled on Pope's Dunciad

The Montpeliad

by Richard Craven

Of slumming hipsters and of slurring drunks,
of raving seers, visionaries, tortured monks,
of bulimic girls with temperamental cats,
and flagellants in tin foil hats
of student anarchists and Trotskyites,
and knuckle-dragging apes with dogs that bite,
and anti-GM activists smoking GM skunk;
of all the witless wank this square mile's wunk:
sing, St Lycergus! Sing, Terpsichore!
They've snorted all the ket, and now want more.
This dawn I took my way down Picton Street,
which bore the mark of canine, smeared by feet,
and saw there party-goers from the night before
wearing wings of angel, ears of bunny, monkey's paw.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped her, crying
"That cheese you're growing in your attic's frying.
Oh keep far hence the helicopter and the snout
or with their infra-red they'll sniff it out".
Next saw I Laudanum's lover, clucking like a hen,
shivering outside the apothecary's den,
and shouting "Open like the fuckin' door!
If you've not got gear, you must at least have draw!"
Alas, the chemists in there took him for a nark
and barred the gate, and sent him to Montpelier Park.
I tarried not, but hastened to Stokes Croft,
where Banksy's imitators spray, like dogs, aloft
epigrams of Gramsci, turgid agitprop,
the granular piss of Marx, and Lenin's plop.
Passed I by the People's Rep eponymous
where Comrade Chalkley's china gathers dust,
and bent my steps past the Jamaica Bell
and Compass House, that reeking five-barred Hell
where squats Jaundice yellowing upon each brow
and Reason in a flood of White Ice drowns.
In King Square Park, a sort of mummery engaged
the very rude mechanicals upon that stage:

Monday, 5 May 2014

I have the honour of having taken the most wicket-keeping catches in Division 2 of the North Somerset Cricket League last season:-

My team, the Old England & Bristol Sikhs, won 13 out of 17 matches last season, and got promoted to Division 1. We won our first match of the season yesterday - although I was absent attending a 50th birthday celebration in Kent.

I translated my French sonnet into English

Here's my original Sonnet 141, published back in August in the French Literary Review No.28:- Sonnet 141 Après avoir ces cent quara...